Movie Review – ‘Bumblebee’

SPOILERS ALERT!!!

(cries) “Bumblebee!” (Pause) “Bumblebee!” (Pause) “How could you do this to me?! How could you?! How can you make me be interested in the ‘Transformers’ movies again?!”

(Moment of silence)

To understand why I feel like this, I must give you a little background on my experiences with the ‘Transformers’ movies of late and ‘Transformers’ overall. First of all, I had a big interest in ‘Transformers’ as a kid. It was when I got into ‘Beast Wars Transformers’ as a TV show and via the toys.

That was in the 1990s! My ‘Transformers’ weren’t Autobots and Decepticons as it was for many people in the 1980s. My ‘Transformers’ were the Maximals and the Predacons. However I did take an interest in the G1 Transformers that were around in the 1980s by watching some of the cartoons.

The 1980s ‘Transformers’ cartoon series wasn’t sophisticated for me as was the ‘Beast Wars’ CGI animation series. But I still liked the 1980s ‘Transformers’ and enjoyed the episodes I saw when I purchased them on DVD in the early 2000s and learning a lot of the ‘Transformers’ history back then.

I hoped there would be a live-action feature film of ‘Transformers’ around the time I was in my teens in the 2000s. But that sadly happened when the first ‘Transformers’ movie directed by Michael Bay was made in 2007. Oh sure it was an impressive spectacle, but I had mixed feelings from watching it.

I hoped the ‘Transformers’ series would be better by the time we got to the sequel. Then came ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ in 2009 and it was less what I hoped for and on par with the first ‘Transformers’ movie. Then ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ happened in 2011 and the same.

I decided after watching ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ that I would make it my last cinema experience of a ‘Transformers’ movie after feeling disappointed with the efforts made in the first three movies. I did think that’ll be the end of it and no more ‘Transformers’ movies would be made.

But then ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’ happened in 2014 and do you know what? I didn’t see it at the cinema. I had considered going to see it, but I resisted. Then ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ happened in 2017 and I didn’t see that either. Hence why there’s no review of the movie on my blog.

In studying the ‘Transformers’ movie series overall, I could see it being a critical and bloated film series, mixing from negative to mixed reviews. I would concur since director Michael Bay seems to keep repeating things in his ‘Transformers’ movies, which is why I gave up on the series by the third film.

So when it came to the release of ‘Bumblebee’ last Christmas at the cinema, I didn’t really think much of the film. Oh to be sure the trailers for the film looked impressive enough, but I was weary into thinking that the film would be like the previous ‘Transformers’ movies that had gone on before.

Oh I picked up that the film wasn’t directed by Michael Bay this time. He was in one the producers’ chairs for a change. The film was now directed by Travis Knight, with a screenplay by Christina Hodson. The film was also to be a prequel to the first ‘Transformers’ movie, focusing on Bumblebee.

I originally decided not to see the movie and waited until the reviews came in. When the reviews came in, I saw that ‘Bumblebee’ got high praise. It received positive reviews from critics and fans alike and it’s claimed to the best instalment of the ‘Transformers’ film franchise. It got me very curious indeed.

Thus my best friend Stephen and I decided to see the movie at the cinema and find out for ourselves whether it was good or not. Before watching the film, I wondered if the film would be less like the previous Michael Bay-directed ‘Transformers’ films and actually do something different for a change.

Going into the movie and first scene in, we’re on Cybertron as the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons takes place! And we have Autobots like Optimus Prime; Bumblebee; Ratchet and Wheeljack and Decepticons like Soundwave; Shockwave and Starscream in their familiar G1 forms!

Those were the Transformers! They were the Transformers!!! Those were faithful versions of the original G1 Transformers being shown to me on the big screen! I was thrilled to bits! The nostalgia of the 1980s Transformers that I wanted to see in the other ‘Transformers’ movies was present here!!!

Eventually Optimus Prime sends Bumblebee – originally named B-127 in the film – to the planet Earth in order to set up a base of operations where the Autobots can regroup in their war against the Deceptions. Thus Bumblebee heads off to Earth and he ends up somewhere in California in 1987.

Wow! The film even respects the nostalgia of the original ‘Transformers’ by setting the story in the 1980s where they were at their most popular. I…I’m legitimately confused. It seems Travis Knight is adding more ‘Transformers’-related stuff in the movie ‘Bumblebee’ than Michael Bay did in his films.

What I also noticed about this film is that the story and the characters are very well-handled and well-developed compared to the other ‘Transformers’ movies. The action sequences also don’t feel jarring as I felt they were in previous films and the CGI effects of the ‘Transformers’ are pretty good.

In the film, Bumblebee comes across a young teenage girl, Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie Watson, who befriends him when he’s on the run from Decepticons. Charlie takes Bumblebee when he’s disguised as a yellow Volkswagen Beetle in a scrapyard belong to her uncle who gives it to her for her birthday.

Again, I’m really pleased the film went with the approach of having Bumblebee as a yellow Volkswagen Beetle from the 1980s cartoon series, which I prefer compared to the camaro in the Michael Bay films. It’s that call-back to the 1980s ‘Transformers’ nostalgia that does it so well for me.

Another thing I’m pleased with is how Charlie interacts with Bumbleebee. Hailee Stienfeld gives a superb performance and I actually prefer her character compared to Shia LaBeouf as Sam in the other ‘Transformers’ films. I found it a believable friendship between Charlie and Bumblebee in this.

I also get an impression there’s an ‘E.T.’ element to this movie with how Charlie interacts with Bumblebee, even though I’ve never seen ‘E.T.’ at all in my life. Bumblebee has his voice box damaged of course and has to find ways to communicate with Charlie through music and radio here.

The other cast members are pretty good in this film. There’s John Cena (‘The Marine’ – that’s where I’ve seen him) as Jack Burns, who is an army man and an agent of an earlier version of Sector 7. I found him pretty good in this, especially in making observations about the ‘Transformers’ characters.

There’s also Jorge Lendeborg Jr. as Memo, who is Charlie’s neighbour and has a bit of crush on her in the film. Memo struggles to ask Charlie out on a date in the film when they’ve hardly met. He soon enters her life when seeing Bumblebee in her garage and the two become friends which I liked here.

There’s also Pamela Adlon as Sally, Charlie’s mother; Stephen Schneider as Ron, Charlie’s stepfather and Jason Drucker as Otis, Charlie’s brother. I liked the family dynamic in this film and am pleased it wasn’t so painfully annoying as were Sam’s family in the first three ‘Transformers’ films that I’d seen.

What was especially good about ‘Bumblebee’ was that there was more focus on the ‘Transformers’ characters…as characters compared to the other movies. I felt there was more thought being put into how the ‘Transformers’ characters interacted with the humans and was less on the humans too.

I really liked the two Deception characters in Shatter and Dropkick who come to the planet Earth and lie to the humans about looking for Bumblebee before doing awful things. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Deception characters be so deceptive compared to the cartoon series and the other films.

I will admit there were a few awkward moments in the film that I didn’t think were necessary to see. The one standout awkward moment in the film is when we see Charlie’s brother, Otis, spewing sick into the car after an amazing car stunt sequence. Seriously, did we need to see that bit in the movie?

But an astonishing thing I found when watching the movie was that I found myself laughing at some genuinely funny moments in the film. I didn’t get that when watching the other ‘Transformers’ movies. The comedy in those films felt rather off-putting and it made me feel uncomfortable indeed.

When watching ‘Bumblebee’, I felt like I was enjoying the humour between characters as they were well-timed especially when Bumblebee was with Charlie and Memo and when they were driving in him as a car. I wasn’t expecting to laugh during the film. It was completely welcome surprise for me.

I also felt the emotional drama featured in the film between characters, especially during the climax where Charlie and Memo were rescuing Bumblebee from the Deceptions. The tension and the pacing were well-timed. Nothing felt forced or smacked into you whilst you were watching the film.

‘Bumblebee’ is definitely the ‘Transformers’ movie I wanted to see at the cinema all those years ago as a teenager in the 2000s. The story and the characters are well-handled and the emotions and drama are all there. I felt like I was watching a proper good action-packed movie instead of an average one.

But why this film?! Why is ‘Bumblebee’ the ‘Transformers’ movie that works? With the previous five films being disappointments at the box office and for critics and fans alike, why is ‘Bumblebee’ the one that gets the most praise. The other ‘Transformers’ films deserve better than ‘Bumblebee’ does!

I highly recommend ‘Bumblebee’ to watch at the cinema! You won’t be disappointed. This is the ‘Transformers’ movie that will please you if you’re a ‘Transformers’ fan. It works very well as a prequel to the first ‘Transformers’ film and the characters featured in this film are likeable to watch.

By the way! Did I see a Tom Baker ‘Doctor Who’ poster in Memo’s bedroom in the movie?! 😀

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Movie Review – ‘Bumblebee’

  1. Timelord 007

    Because Michael Bay didn’t direct it lol, great review Tim & perfectly summed up, i grew up watching the 80’s cartoon infact my mom had bring me out of the Transformers The Movie film halfway because Optimus Prime dying had me in tears lol.

    Then again when Charlie breaks down about her dad & Bumblebee hugs her I’ll admit to being teary eyed it was such a brilliant performance by Hailee Steinfeld pitched perfectly.

    Travis Knight direction is way better, he slows down the transformation sequences so you can see what’s going on, same with the fights there shot in wide angles & finally get to see some kick ass smackdowns.

    I hope any future Transformers films feature the G1 versions & i hope Travis Knight gets to stay on & direct because he gets the characters & franchise.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Very pleased you enjoyed my review on ‘Bumblebee’.

      Actually the first thing I saw in relation to the G1 ‘Transformers’ from the 1980s was ‘Transformers: The Movie’. I recall being upset by Optimus’ death in the movie, thinking it would never happen. I went back to watch the earlier cartoons from Season 1 afterwards. I’ve not seen all of the 1980s cartoons of ‘Transformers’, but I’ve seen most of them. Watching them all in total will be a challenge I daresay. Thanks for sharing your memories of watching the ‘Transformers’ movie at the cinema when you were a kid, Simon.

      Yes those scenes where Charlie and Bumbleebee connect with each other and hug during emotional moments were very good indeed. Why couldn’t Michael Bay have put moments like that in his ‘Transformers’ films. We needed more emotional moments like that and not be haphazarded by so many fight scenes and unfunny comedy.

      I agree. The direction by Travis Knight is superior and the performances of the cast including Hailee Stienfied are great compared to the other ‘Transformers’ movies. I was able to enjoy the fight scenes and the transformation sequences and not get distracted by too many CGI effects or things going too fast for me.

      It will be nice to have more ‘Transformers’ films under Travis Knight’s direction. Not sure what the future for ‘Transformers’ movies will be, but if they do more films like ‘Bumblebee’ then I hope the ‘Transformers’ film series will improve greatly in the future. And yes, we need more G1 Transformers like what we saw in ‘Bumblebee’.

      I’m hoping there’ll be a ‘Beast Wars Transformers’ movie someday and perhaps directed by Travis Knight.

      Many thanks for your comments, Simon.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

      Reply

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